Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Twelve years is a long time to pass between a band releasing new music. That’s how long it has been since Life Of Agony has. 2005’s ‘Broken Valley’ was the last studio effort from the famous NYC-based band until now with the freshly rendered ‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain‘.
Released last week on April 28th, from Napalm Records, the recorded return of the quartet has generated a lot of speculation. Some good, some bad, much uncertain. As it always should be, let’s allow the music to do the talking, shall we?
If you’re like me, then you were there, present and accounted for when Life Of Agony burst on to the scene, with 1993’s ‘River Runs Red’. The clearly hardcore-riveted record quickly propelled the band, bassist Alan Robert, guitarist Joey Z., drummer Sal Abruscato, and singer Mina Caputo (then Keith Caputo), into the public spotlight.
I loved that début and stuck right with LOA through their evolution into a more alternative-oriented rock act on follow-up releases. Those albums, 1995’s ‘Ugly’, 1997’s ‘Soul Searching Sun’, and the aforementioned ‘Broken Valley‘, saw the group drastically alter their original sound. Intentionally or not, whatever, Life Of Agony has always been laden with abundant energy and emotion. LOA circa-2017 continues the tradition.
‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain’ launches into the immediate overdrive of “Meet My Maker“. Incredible, distinctly lively riffs – that only Joey Z. can wield – drive things sideways right off the line. Mina’s emotional, fantastic vocals, especially the choruses, let you know that our beloved band is back!
Next on deck is one of my favorite cuts here, “Right This Wrong“. Chugging rhythms, choppy guitars, and paced drums crush the airwaves and, once again, a golden chorus delivers. Almost trance-like vocals lull you at moments until those massive guitars lay the smackdown on you.
The darker vibes of the title track “A Place Where There’s No More Pain” unfold and then abruptly lift with an empowering feel. Things go into a slightly more experimental mode with “Dead Speak Kindly”, a cut littered with doomed tones and outright psychedelia. Heavy ass riffs pummel you like body blows while Mina’s hazy, heady vocals are pure trippiness.
More atmospherics lead us into “A New Low”, another somewhat doomy number that’s fueled with rumbling, isolated bass lines. At least until the punk-ish bent sections release a flurry of intensity.
We are clearly within an eye of this storm as the method of groove drives songs like “World Gone Mad” and the superb stand-out selection, “Bag Of Bones“. That song, “Walking Catastrophe” and “Song For The Abused” instantly brought to mind the band’s sound during the ‘Ugly’ era. For the record, that is a damn fine thing, for me at least, as I still listen to that classic on a regular basis.
With the final song, we get what is perhaps the most “alternative” Life Of Agony song ever, “Little Spots Of You“. The stripped-down, mostly Mina and a piano with odd vocal and noise effects, is pure lysergic accompaniment. To put it bluntly, LOA on LSD.
In closing, make no mistake… Life Of Agony, aka L.O.A., is not M.I.A. or D.O.A. or in need of an A.P.B. nor R.I.P. No, instead my review here is a sort of P.S.A. to let you know that they are A-OK! They truly are kind of picking right back up where their last couple of studio outings left off. The same visceral feelings and vibrant, sometimes even vicious, emotionally fueled music that Life Of Agony has always created is here.
While the title may be ‘A Place Where There’s No More Pain‘, it is clear that Life Of Agony is still exploring their own souls and channeling that trek into music. Just the same as they have always done, just the same as I have always enjoyed and experienced with them vicariously through their music.